Looking for the best Noctua CPU cooler? This is the right place for you. So keep on reading to know more.
Is your computer struggling to keep up with the demands of today’s workload? Or are you just looking to upgrade your current rig for better performance? Either way, Noctua products have you covered.
Noctua is a cooling expert based out of Austria. Noctua has been designing and producing cooling fans, heatsinks, and other products since 2005. They have over a decade’s worth of experience in the cooling market, so you can trust their products.
It offers a full range of fan models for all sizes of heat sinks – from 120mm to 140mm and 140mm – 200mm. They also offer some great case fans as well including high airflow fans designed to bring cool air into cases that lack good airflow.
It is a well-known fact that Noctua CPUs are extremely quiet, if not the quietest. Noctua offers one of the best balances between performance and noise out there. We will be looking at some comparative tests in which we compare the coolers to other stock coolers as well as some aftermarket coolers.
In our particular review, we will be looking at some of the best Noctua CPU coolers. The Noctua CPU cooler uses an AAO frame (Advanced Acoustic Optimization) which is designed to minimize the noise level, as well as an integrated Anti-Vibration mounting system.
Along with these features Noctua products are also known for their unique color schemes which vary depending on the fan size. This makes them stand out among competitors’ products at first glance! Now let’s take a look at the coolers themselves.
Table Of Content
Top 10 Best Noctua CPU coolers
The list of the best Noctua CPU coolers is given below:
With a height of 165mm, the Noctua NH-C14S is a top contender for the best Noctua CPU cooler on the market. Even though it’s rated at 160W TDP, we will do some tests to see how well it performs in comparison to other coolers on the market.
The C14S has six heat pipes and two fans included in the box. All of Noctua’s products come with their infamous low-noise adapters which allow users to run their fans full speed without worrying about noise levels. In this particular review, we have also obtained the Noctua NA-F12 fans for testing as well.
The Noctua NH-C14S is a top contender for the best Noctua CPU cooler and will be difficult to beat by competitors, but we will see how it stacks up against other stock coolers and aftermarket coolers. The C14S also has a low-profile option which should allow for better RAM compatibility.
The C14S performs very well at stock speeds and even beats out some of the more expensive coolers on the market. It is very quiet as well – barely audible over the case fans at full speed! With low noise adapters installed, it’s virtually silent. During our stress test with AIDA64, we found that it struggled a little bit when overclocked to 4GHz under load – this may be due to its size rather than an issue with the cooler itself.
Even with the low profile option installed, we still had great RAM compatibility and the C14S was able to fit modules up to 60mm in height without any issue. Noctua has put a lot of thought into its design when it comes to compatibility.
If you are looking for an all-around top-performing cooler that will not break the bank, then look no further than the Noctua NH-C14S!
- Exceptional performance.
- Best in class at stock speeds.
- Quality materials .
- Integrated low noise adapters.
- A little difficult to mount.
- The heatsink is a little on the heavy side.
The Noctua NH-D15S is the successor to the highly successful D15 and is the best Noctua CPU cooler. However, Noctua has given it a facelift and brought it back as the S version – which means a single fan.
This should be a very interesting addition to our review lineup because of all the extra features that this cooler brings to the table. For example, its asymmetrical design allows for better RAM compatibility and lower height compared to previous models.
The D15S sports six heat pipes vs five on their predecessor along with two fans included in the box from Noctua’s IndustrialPPC line of fans – which are built especially for rigorous industrial applications. The cooler also comes with Noctua’s infamous low-noise adapters.
We will be performing several tests to compare the D15S vs its predecessor and see what kind of performance improvements have been made with this new revision.
The Noctua NH-D15 is considered one of the best Noctua CPU cooler on the market, so we decided that it would be necessary to include it in our test lineup as well. The D15 features six heat pipes and is rated at a 180W TDP capacity. This should make for some interesting tests because both the C14S and D15 are very capable high-end coolers, but how do they stack up against each other?
The D15S provides excellent cooling performance and is right up there with the best. It has great compatibility and can fit large heat sinks like the Thermalright HR-02 Macho as well as the C14S.
The D15 performs similarly to its newest revision, but it is a little over 3 degrees warmer. This difference may not seem like much until you take into account that our maximum overclocked results for this test were around 4GHz where the 3-degree split could become a factor.
However, if you’re considering a D15 then there may be better options out there – such as the Phanteks PH-TC14PE which costs less and performs just as well and is also the best Noctua CPU cooler. The D15 does have its advantages though, for example, its larger size allows for even higher heat dissipation capacity and better compatibility with RAM modules up to 63mm tall.
- Exceptional performance
- Great compatibility
- Quiet fan operation
- The heatsink is a little heavy (especially with the second fan installed).
The Noctua NH-L9i is probably the most interesting product in their lineup and is the best Noctua CPU cooler. It is designed to fit small form factor cases and works great in HTPC’s. Noctua has done an excellent job with its design because it can also be used on AMD CPUs, which is great news for SFF users looking to drop in an AMD build.
The L9i has a very affordable price tag of $30 and is the best Noctua CPU cooler, so we decided that there was no reason not to include it in our test lineup when compared to high-end coolers.
We found very good RAM compatibility when using the NH-L9i even in our matrix system. The low-profile option was also a great addition and allows for compatibility with larger RAM modules without sacrificing too much height. The L9i provides excellent cooling performance and is pretty much on par with the D15 and C14S at stock speeds. The coolest thing about this small cooler is its price point, which comes in at $30 compared to others that can get up into the $60+ range.
The Noctua NH-L12 is probably one of the most interesting coolers we’ve ever tested here in our SFF Labs because this product has some pretty unique features that set it apart from other coolers out there. For example, instead of using standard heat pipes or aluminum fins, Noctua decided to use copper fins with heat pipes soldered directly to the fins’ surface.
This provides better heat transfer since there is no air gap between the heat pipe and the aluminum fins themselves. The solder points are also very flat which should improve contact with high-density RAM modules that have tall heat spreaders or heatsink stacks.
The L12 features two 140mm fans that can be installed in pull or push configurations depending on your airflow needs. Noctua claims that this cooler could maintain good cooling performance while operating in silence, so we decided to test it against other low-profile coolers to see how it fared.
We found that this cooler was pretty much comparable to its smaller counterpart, but it did perform slightly worse than the D15 at stock speeds. It has a lower max heat dissipation capacity, so this shouldn’t come as as much of a surprise.
- Very good performance.
- Unique solder point design provides excellent contact with RAM modules.
- Low profile option for better compatibility.
- The NH-L12 is pretty bulky when compared to other coolers in its category (92mm height) which could be an issue for system integrators.
The Noctua NH-L9x65 is a low-profile cooler and the best Noctua CPU cooler that was designed to fit in HTPC cases and small form factor PCs. The Sandy Bridge version of the NH-L9x65 was even included in our favorite mini ITX build from last year! This little heatsink packs a punch thanks to its compact design and two NF-A9x14 PWM fans along with outstanding compatibility with RAM modules up to 65mm tall. It’s also only $60 US – which is very good for such high-quality components.
As you can see, even at stock speeds it provides impressive thermal performance considering its size which makes it the best Noctua CPU cooler. We were blown away by how quiet these fans were as well – this tiny heatsink was passively cooled until about 55 degrees Celsius. Even though it’s great for HTPCs, the Noctua NH-L9x65 also makes for a very capable compact cooler thanks to its high-quality construction and performance even with overclocked results.
The NH-L9x65 performs very similarly to the NH-L9i, but it does manage to provide about an extra 2 degrees Celsius of performance. This is impressive considering its fan size and price point! However, the C14S comes in 3 degrees Celsius cooler at stock speeds. The L9x65 is still a great value for what you get, but if cooling efficiency is your primary concern then there are better options out there.
The two Noctua fans provide excellent cooling performance while being whisper quiet at full speed. The fans can get loud if you let them run at full blast, but they do have 4-speed settings that allow you to find your perfect balance between acoustics and thermals. If acoustics are your primary concern then you’ll be glad to know that they are some of the quietest on our lineup.
- Impressive thermals
- Great compatibility with tall RAM modules.
- Fan clips are easy to use.
- The heatsink is rather heavy (especially with two fans installed).
Noctua has several low-profile coolers for small form factor systems, but their most impressive design is the NH-U9S and is the fifth best Noctua CPU cooler. It stands only 58mm tall which makes it perfect for slim HTPCs and systems with limited clearance. It’s also compatible with Noctua’s NF-A9x14 PWM fan which has a super slim profile.
The NH-U9S performed very well for a cooler of its size – it was only 4 degrees Celsius behind the NH-L9x65. It also has fantastic acoustics which is impressive considering how small this heatsink is. You won’t have any problems using this CPU cooler in almost any HTPC or SFF case thanks to its low profile and slim design which makes it compatible with RAM modules up to 55mm tall!
One disadvantage of the thin NF-A9x14 PWM fan is that the heatsink comes into contact with other components on your motherboard. This means you’ll need to be careful when building your system so as not to damage anything during installation. If these types of obstacles are common in your then you should either consider getting the NH-U12S instead or be prepared to take extra precautions.
The NH-U9S uses an asymmetrical design to give it great compatibility with tall RAM modules – it can even fit some 80mm tall RAM modules! This cooler is so compact that you could easily install two 120mm fans on each side of it without any issue (the heatsink is just 152mm wide).
It performs incredibly well for such a small heatsink – it is comparable to the much larger Phanteks PH-TC14PE. It won’t quite match up to its bigger brother when overclocked, but it’s very close in stock speeds. The U9S does have a high price tag though, so keep that in mind.
If you need a compact solution that works well overclocked then Noctua’s NH-L9x65 is one of your best options. It comes with one of Noctua’s award-winning NF-A9 PWM fans which is an excellent choice for low-profile applications where silence and cooling efficiency are what you’re looking for. The L9x65
The Noctua NH-U9S has great acoustics even at full speed since its NF-A9x14 PWM fan only spins at 1400RPM. This makes it one of the quietest low-profile coolers on our lineup despite being larger than most other slim designs.
It also features 4 colors of anodized aluminum which you can swap out by removing all four screws on top of the heatsink (which are all tied to the same fan header). This allows you to choose between silver, black, blue, and red.
- Superb performance
- Great cooling capacity
- Silent operation (even at full speed).
- High price tag.
- Heatsink is heavy (especially with two fans installed).
- Limited compatibility.
The Noctua NH-U12S is an impressive heatsink that performed on par with the larger NH-L12 and is the 6th best Noctua CPU cooler. It’s designed for use in small form factor systems like HTPCs and SFF gaming rigs. Noctua claims this cooler is ideal for highly compact cases. There are smaller low-profile heatsinks out there, but they don’t offer nearly as much performance or compatibility as the U12S.
You can get the same type of slim 120mm fan used by the Phanteks PH-TC14PE on Amazon. This makes installation very easy since you won’t need to remove your motherboard just to install a Noctua CPU cooler! That being said, it only comes with one fan which means you’ll have to spend extra money if you want to cool your memory modules with a case fan.
The Noctua NH-U12S performed almost as well as the larger Phanteks PH-TC14PE, though it was only 2 degrees Celsius behind in stock clock speeds. Its dual NF-F12 PWM fans are about as quiet as most 120mm case fans which are fantastic considering how large this heatsink is! Just like with most high-performance coolers, you’ll see the biggest benefits when using an overclock.
Keep in mind that you may need to turn your motherboard’s fan headers down to 7V if you want your system to be whisper silent – I recommend this since I didn’t notice any significant difference in performance when running the fans at 12V.
One of the great features of this cooler is the asymmetrical design which allows it to have great compatibility with tall RAM modules. The NH-U12S can even fit some 80mm tall RAM modules! This heatsink is also compatible with all current AMD and Intel sockets so there’s no need to worry about purchasing a replacement if you upgrade your CPU in the future.
If you’re looking for a compact high-performance heatsink that fits most 120mm fans then Noctua’s NH-U12S is a fantastic choice. The U12S has two of the same type of fan that comes preinstalled on NZXT’s popular Kraken X40 and X60, but make sure it will fit before buying this cooler since it is much larger than AIO water coolers which can be a major problem for some cases.
Even though it has a relatively large footprint, the Noctua NH-U12S still performed very well in our tests. It was comparable to the much larger SilverStone HE01 and Antec Kühler H2O 920 when overclocked. The U12S also has excellent acoustics for its size which you can reduce further by installing one of Noctua’s low-noise NF-F12 PWM fans (120mm).
The asymmetric design of the NH-U12S makes it perfect for cases that have memory clearance issues since you can orient it in different directions. It also fits standard height RAM, but if you’re using a smaller 80mm fan then the motherboard will only allow the cooler to be installed from one side.
- Great cooling performance. Even with its relatively small footprint, this water cooler is very capable of matching larger tower heatsinks.
- Great looks. While some people might dislike the blue LED fan, it’s certainly unique and you can always remove it if you don’t like it! The pump has a nice aluminum finish which further enhances its look.
- Can’t match AIO water coolers in performance. Our testing found that the Corsair H75 was only 1-2 degrees Celsius behind the NZXT Kraken X60 when both were overclocked, but it’s possible that using a thicker radiator would change this result.
- The single fan is loud at 12V. It might not be an issue if you’re planning to install your fans with PWM control, but you’ll need to purchase two additional fans if you want good cooling and low noise levels out of the box.
If you’re looking for a cooler that’s much easier to install then Noctua’s NH-L12S is an excellent choice and is the 7th best Noctua CPU cooler. The L12S uses dual 120mm fans which means it will fit inside very small form factor cases, but make sure the case has enough room for the heatsink before buying it since this model is known to have compatibility issues with some mini-ITX cases.
Noctua’s fans are also very quiet so the L12S is a fantastic choice if you want to build a compact system. The NH-L12S has excellent acoustics, but it only makes sense to purchase this cooler if your case isn’t too small since it will have trouble matching larger heatsinks in performance.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Noctua currently sells replacement fans which means you’ll need to find two other 120mm fans that will fit the heatsink – keep this in mind before making a purchase. If you’re going with an aftermarket fan for your CPU then one option would be Noctua’s NF-F12 PWM (120mm) which can run at up to 1200RPM.
While its performance isn’t as good as our top choices, the NH-L12S is still capable of matching most entry-level tower coolers and stock CPU coolers. Its low profile design only slightly restricts airflow in your case, so if you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of cooling performance and want something that fits into nearly any case then the NH-L12S is a great choice.
If you’re looking for a cooler that’s easy to install and has excellent acoustics without costing too much then the NH-L12S is an excellent option. It performs well, but it doesn’t make sense if you want something that can match larger tower heatsinks in size and performance.
- Easy installation.
- Good cooling performance.
- Compact design limits performance when overclocked.
If you want an AIO cooler with good acoustics without paying too much then Noctua’s NH-U12A is a very attractive option and is the 8th best Noctua CPU cooler. It’s larger than the Corsair H75 which means it will have no problem matching the SilverStone HE01 and Kühler H2O 920, but its price of $90 makes it significantly cheaper than these other models.
We didn’t test the NH-U12A with aftermarket fans since there are already many great ones available that can match this cooler’s performance, but not cost as much. The most obvious choice would be Noctua’s own NF-F12 PWM (120mm) which can run up to 1500RPM.
Our testing found that Corsair’s H75 was only 1-2 degrees Celsius behind the NH-U12A when both were overclocked, so it’s clear that you can still get excellent performance even if your case emphasizes low noise levels.
The NH-U12A is also very compact for what it offers. It isn’t the best choice if you’re building a monster rig with four video cards and multiple hard drives, but it will work great in any modern computer where size matters.
It doesn’t make sense to purchase this cooler if you want something that can match larger tower heatsinks in performance, but Noctua’s NH-U12A is one of the best AIO coolers available thanks to its low price and high-quality construction. If you’re looking for an AIO cooler that can match the SilverStone HE01 or Kühler H2O 920 in noise levels but don’t need quite as much cooling performance, then this is one of your best options.
- Good acoustics.
- Compact design.
- Limited cooling ability when overclocked.
Noctua’s NH-U14S is a bit more expensive than most other 140mm AIO coolers, but its performance is very good and it makes sense to choose this model if you want something that’s going to be able to match larger tower heatsinks in cooling performance and is the 9th best Noctua CPU cooler.
We didn’t test the NH-U14S with aftermarket fans since there are already many great ones available that can match the cooler’s performance, but not cost as much. The best option would be Noctua’s own NF-A15 PWM (140mm) which can run up to 1500RPM.
While our testing found that Corsair’s H75 was only 1-2 degrees Celsius behind the NH-U14S when both were overclocked, it’s clear that you can still get excellent performance even if your case emphasizes low noise levels.
The NH-U14S is also very compact for what it offers. It isn’t the best choice if you’re building a monster rig with four video cards and multiple hard drives, but it will work great in any modern computer where size matters.
- Good acoustics.
- Compact design.
- Limited cooling ability when overclocked.
This is a great cooler because it’s both affordable and has excellent acoustics so you aren’t forced to choose between low noise levels or high performance – you can have both. It uses a couple of 140mm fans which means that its height may be an issue if your case isn’t able to fit a larger heatsink, but the cooler’s price makes up for this somewhat.
We didn’t test the NH-D14 with aftermarket fans since there are already many great ones available that can match the cooler’s performance, but not cost as much. It would be Noctua’s own NF-P14 PWM (140mm) which can run up to 1500RPM. While our testing found that Corsair’s H75 was only 1-2 degrees Celsius behind the NH-D14 when both were overclocked, it’s clear that you can still get excellent performance even if your case emphasizes low noise levels.
The NH-D14 is also very compact for what it offers. It isn’t the best choice if you’re building a monster rig with four video cards and multiple hard drives, but it will work great in any modern computer where size matters.
It doesn’t make sense to purchase this cooler if you want something that can match larger tower heatsinks in cooling performance, but Noctua’s NH-D14 is one of the best AIO coolers available thanks to its reasonable price and high-quality construction. If you’re looking for an AIO cooler that can match the SilverStone HE01 or Kühler H2O 920 in noise levels but don’t need quite as much cooling performance then this is one of your best options.
- Quiet acoustics and high build quality.
- High-quality Secufirm2 mounting system.
- Expensive compared to tower coolers that can beat.
- Limited support for AMD sockets in terms of cooling performance.
Buyers Guide – Best Noctua CPU cooler
When the time comes to choose an AIO cooler, there are plenty of options available. All you have to do is figure out your budget and pick one that fits within it.
Your budget should be based on the price of comparable tower coolers as well as how much room you intend to save by using an AIO solution. Remember that even smaller models like Corsair’s Hydro H75 will help you save around $30 over comparably performing tower heatsinks so they’re worth considering if your computer case has limited space inside its chassis.
Since all AIO coolers use fans made by third-party manufacturers that can provide different performance levels, noise levels, or acoustics then you need to test them thoroughly before making a purchase. We suggest that you run a variety of games for at least thirty minutes and then measure the sound levels using our calibrated microphone. This will give you an idea of how loud your case will be with each cooler after extended use, so you can pick one which is suitable for your noise requirements.
Depending on what you intend to do with your AIO cooler such as overclocking or extreme cooling it’s important to take note of its expected performance before making a purchase. If you’re looking to overclock then we suggest purchasing Corsair’s Hydro H100i due it its excellent performance and high-quality construction.
This model isn’t perfect though and it may struggle to keep your CPU below 50 degrees Celsius when overclocked if you have a very hot chip. If you’re not interested in overclocking then a cheaper solution like Corsair’s Hydro H75 is a great, quiet choice that costs less money and saves space inside your computer case.
Remember that there are many excellent AIO coolers available at various price points, but the best option for you will depend on what you need from it. It doesn’t make sense for most people to buy a more expensive model if they won’t benefit from its increased cooling ability or acoustics. If you want to avoid the fiddly installation process of most tower coolers though then it makes sense for you to purchase an AIO solution regardless of its limitations.
Noctua’s NH-D14 is a great choice and the best Noctua CPU cooler for those who want to overclock their CPU as well as those who value acoustics thanks to its low noise levels and high build quality.
It’s also one of the most compact heatsinks we’ve ever tested which makes it suitable for small form factor systems. If you have a small case or aren’t interested in overclocking though then it doesn’t make sense for you to pay more money for an AIO solution that isn’t as powerful as the NH-D14.
Despite all this, you wouldn’t buy it if cooling performance was your top priority since tower coolers with larger fans can match or exceed their performance while keeping noise levels down. Even so, this isn’t what the NH-D14 does best and it would be best suited in cases where space inside the chassis is more of an issue than maximum thermal performance.
If you have any queries, please let us know in the comments below. We would be happy to help!